Planning Minister and Northern Metropolitan Province MP, Matthew Guy, has recently written to Friends of Banyule
to reaffirm that the North East Link project is not a Coalition Government commitment. (Click here to read the letter: Matthew Guy re NE Link.)
However, the project is still listed on the VicRoads website amongst a number of other road project proposals (see http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/Home/RoadProjects/PlanningAndProposals/Melbourne/NorthEastLink.htm )
According to the VicRoads website “The North East Link is being reviewed as part of the Metropolitan Planning Strategy. It is anticipated that this strategy will be completed within two years.”
The Victorian Government announced early in 2011 that it will prepare a new metropolitan planning strategy to manage Melbourne’s growth and change over the next 30-40 years.
The strategy is addressing housing choice, transport accessibility, economic growth, environmental protection; and infrastructure and services to support growth. Understandably Minister Guy and Public Transport and Roads Minister Terry Mulder are the two key ministers in the development of the strategy.
Inquiries made of the Department of Planning and Community Development indicate that there are plans for public consultation on the proposed new metropolitan planning strategy but it has not been revealed when they will occur or what form these consultations will take.
The approach to the mooted North-East Link project is broadly indicative of the dominant role that roads planning has assumed over many years in Victoria relative to planning for public transport. VicRoads and other roads authorities work continuously on a suite of funding bids for projects to increase the capacity of the road network. It is quite different for public transport, which is systematically underfunded and has been characterised, at best, by haphazard government efforts to develop projects to improve the capability of train, tram and bus services.
From a planning perspective, the consistent underrating of public transport over many decades has contributed to the added household costs and the environmental degradation of urban sprawl that is now the most dominant feature of metropolitan Melbourne.
The Baillieu government’s new metropolitan planning strategy, when it is finally revealed, needs to have as a priority the reclaiming of urban space by the reduction of car dependency in Melbourne and a rerating of public transport. In doing so, Friends of Banyule will be looking forward to the North East Link proposal being ruled out once and for all. It will be a straightforward test of the Baillieu government’s mettle.
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